Rishikesh: The New Age Hub

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The holy city of Rishikesh, in the base of the Himalayas, holds deep cultural and spiritual significance for local Hindus.

From Varanasi, we took another long, excruciating journey to Haridwar (almost 20 hours!). Our train journey was quite amusing though – I spent half the journey writing on my journal and at the same time watching a couple of foreign travelers in awe, who has got all the attention of all other passengers, as they were overly clingy to each other and went over the top – they were making out on the upper berths!

We arrived in Haridwar around 5am, and it was still dark, so we decided to stay and wait for daylight by the waiting area of the train station. By 6am, we left and just across the station are the buses that goes to Rishikesh. Another hour journey. The bus drop us off at the local bus station and from there another bus or rickshaw to get to Laxman Jhula, where all the cheaper accommodations are located.
Rishikesh is our last stop in India. In a few days, we will head off to Delhi and take our flights to go home.

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View of the Laxman Jhula

Rishikesh is a weird place – I’m not quite sure what I going to make of it for I’m not a very spiritual person. Everywhere I look are big tarpaulin of advertisements for ashrams, gurus, reiki courses, yoga classes, ayurvedic massages. It seems you can get anything you want here: blessings, forgiveness, special powers, eternal life – that, if you’re prepared to pay enough.

As we were wandering around the area across the Laxman Jhula, I see that there are temples everywhere, but we don’t feel much inclination to go inside – we have seen too much temples since Ellora in Aurangabad. Don’t get me wrong, Rishikesh is beautiful, the Ganges River is amazingly clean – The water is freezing cold, but I don’t care. But I don’t feel there’s any truth for me here. I’m too broke to buy myself enlightenment. And even if I had too much money, I don’t feel paying for it. I feel this place has been exploited, corrupted. Too bad, there are still many Westerners who comes here and buy the commercialized spiritual quests.

I don’t believe in searching for extraordinary experiences. In India, experiences usually find you.

Ganga Aarti

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